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“The People of God: The Rest of the Story”

Psalm 108: 7-9: “’I will exult, I will portion out Shechem, and measure out the valley of Succoth. Gilead is Mine, Manasseh is Mine, Ephraim also is the helmet of My head; Judah is My scepter. Moab is My washbowl; over Edom I shall throw My shoe; Over Philistia I will shout aloud.’” Shechem, Succoth, Gilead, Manasseh, Ephriam, Judah – all cities and tribes in Israel. We expect the Lord to claim them. But Moab? Edom? Philistia, for goodness sake? These are His historical enemies. But the Lord of All claims them too, along with those of every tribe, tongue, people, and land – don’t you love the rest of the story?

“Blind Bartimaeus: The Rest of the Story”

Matthew 20: 30: “And behold, two blind men sitting by the road, hearing that Jesus was passing by, cried out, saying, ‘Lord have mercy on us, Son of David!” We all know the story of Blind Bartimaeus, the beggar from Jericho whom Jesus healed as recorded by Mark and Luke. But now, from the pen of Matthew, the rest of the story: Blind Bart had a silent partner! With Jesus you always get more than you expect: you get the rest of the story!

“Exultation: The Rest of the Story”

Romans 5: 2b, 3: “We exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, we also exult in our tribulations.” Sure, anyone can exult in the hope of glory, which, as Colossians tells us, is Christ in us (Colossians 1: 27). You’d be crazy not to exalt in that, but the rest of the story is that we also exult in our troubles, knowing that God uses them to develop His character in us. Good times, bad times, we exult in all times. We exult in the rest of the story!

“Rebellion of Korah: The Rest of the Story”

Numbers 16: 46: “Take your censer and put in it fire from the altar, and lay incense on it; then bring it quickly to the congregation and make atonement for them, for wrath has gone forth from the Lord, the plague has begun!’” The rebellion of Korah is over; the earth has swallowed up Korah, Abiram, and Dathan, and fire from heaven has consumed the two hundred fifty co-conspirators. Behold, an angry God! End of story. No, when all the people blame Moses for the carnage caused by the mutiny and a plague is consuming them, God’s fire from the altar consumes the incense and spares the people who deserve the same fate as the others. Behold, the goodness and severity of God (Romans 11: 22); t

“Man’s Great Reward: The Rest of the Story”

Matthew 19: 30: “But many who are first will be last; and the last, first.” After Peter spoke what’s in everyone’s heart (What’s in it for us?) Jesus answers, “More than you could imagine!” But He then adds this parable about laborers who are also overconcerned about getting their deserved rewards, and concludes it with the same thought: better last than first (Matthew 20: 16). Who is last, other than he who puts himself first; and who is first, but the one whom the Lord exalts? Before you get too excited, Peter, you’d better hear the rest of the story!

“It’s a Gift!  The Rest of the Story”

Romans 3: 24, 25: “Being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; Whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins preciously committed.” From a legal perspective every man was guilty before God (v. 23), but now we have received the gift of justification. This means, from the same legal perspective, justice has been done, the price has been paid – the price of Christ’s blood, paid at His crucifixion. This was paid publicly, outside the gates of Jerusalem on the busiest tourist day of the year, because all knew man had a lo

"Purity of Submission"

“Who Then is This?” Fear is a powerful emotion. We’ve all dealt with it. Fear of loss. Fear of the unknown. Fear of pain. Fear of death. Fear of a hostile world. Fear can either motivate us to act or it can paralyze us. And fear of two very different sorts is present in our text today. Jesus has just finished a long day of teaching by the Sea of Galilee. After evening has come, He and his disciples begin to cross to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. But the calm after a long day doesn’t last. Soon a great and violent windstorm arises, the type of which the Sea of Galilee is well known for. The fishing boats used by Galilean fishermen at that time had low sides (so that the men could cast

“Serious Mistake”

Numbers 14: 22, 23: “’Surely all the men who have seen My glory and My signs, which I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, yet have put Me to the test these ten times and have not listened to My voice, shall by no means see the land which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who spurned Me see it. Wow, one mistake and the entire generation who came out of Egypt is condemned! No, it was ten mistakes, and the last was the most serious, the thing that hacks God off the most – they accused Him of not being able or willing to keep His promise. But God does not lie (Hebrews 6: 18), it’s impossible for Him to do so. What He says, He will do. Never, ever be guilty of accusing t

“Millennial Hero”

Psalm 88: 14, 15: “O Lord, why do You reject my soul? Why do You hide Your face from me? I was afflicted and about to die from my youth on; I suffer Your terrors, I am overcome.” Unlike the “Bummer Psalms” of David, this psalm is unique in that its writer never grasps the hope found in God. He seems to be not just depressed, bur suicidal. This would put Heman the Ezrahite high on the heroes list of many folks today, who have idealized and romanticized suicide. But suicide is neither ideal nor romantic. The Bible records only two suicides, and Saul (1 Samuel 31: 4) and Ahithophel (2 Samuel 17: 23) are both condemned for the act. Suicide is nothing admirable; it’s just a flagrant viol

“More Mercy”

Matthew 18: 17: “And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax-gatherer.” Never use this verse as an excuse to reject and despise people. Stop and think: How did Jesus treat Gentiles and tax-collectors? What is the context of this verse? First seeking the lost (vv. 11-14), then prayer (vv. 18-20), then forgiveness (vv. 21-35). Let us never stop loving any brother, offensive or not.

“He Didn’t Stop There”

Romans 2: 4: “Do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” St. Paul has just gone through a long litany of things connected with depravity; perverted, unnatural carnal relations being just the first on the list. You name it, it’s there, from wickedness to being disobedient to parents and everything in between. But he doesn’t leave his readers in potential condemnation; He goes on to remind us of the Lord’s ultimate goal for every person: repentance. Thank God Paul didn’t stop with verse three!

“Looking Is Not Enough”

Numbers 11: 6: “'But now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna.’” I think I figured out the Israelite’s problem. They were just looking at the manna, when they were supposed to prepare it and eat it. When we “become like those who complain of adversity” (v. 1), and just look at our blessings, gifts, and callings, we’re headed for trouble. Don’t just look at, use it!

“So What Makes a Pervert?”

Matthew 17: 16, 17: “'And I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him.’ And Jesus answered and said, ‘O unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you?’” We usually think of a pervert as a guy in a long raincoat hanging around outside kid’s playgrounds. So how does not believing make one perverted? Perversion can refer to any kind of deviation from the norm. God created us as believers; that’s our factory setting. When, because of our unbelief, we fail to accomplish what he says we can, it’s perversion. So believe and do, or bring out the trench coat.

"Purity of Harvest"

Mark 4 tells us the kingdom of God is like seed growing even if we’re unaware of its presence. It’s also like a mustard seed which, though the smallest, becomes the largest plant. Don’t underestimate the power of the seed and don't underestimate the scale of the kingdom. At times we may feel overwhelmed by a sense of hopelessness when it seems nothing is happening. Sow faithfully and wait patiently. The seed will triumph because there is power in it, not in us or our eloquent words, or farming skills, or marketing strategies. Trust God to cause the growth and take part in the unstoppable increase of His kingdom.

"Purity of Harvest"

"Ever since I was a child, I was known for a really bad black thumb—I could not grow anything, and even worse, plants seemed to die under my supervision, even the plastic kind." Cookbook author Monica Bhide in her Chicago Sun-Times 13 Apr. 2011 article could very well be describing me. Having been gifted with a plant and a challenge to care for it last year, I embarked on the adventure of turning myself into a green thumb. In the process, I am learning many valuable lessons about life. There are some seeds that break their coat and sprout overnight just by soaking in water, as in the case of the munggo seeds. So in three days, I would have a harvest for cooking and feeding the family. On the

“Only Source of Pride”

Galatians 6: 14: “But may it never be that I should boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Nothing – our degrees, our books, the number of people at our meetings (no matter how inflated they are), the number of people who follow us on our social media – nothing – can be a source of boasting to us. Why? For one thing, because it all come from God anyway (John 3: 27), and for another, it all pales in comparison to what God has already done. One look at the cross should humble all our boasting into what it truly is – empty.

“A Rose by Any Other Name …”

Galatians 6: 7, 8: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life.” Some may call this karma, some may have other names. It doesn’t matter, it’s still truth. Sooner or later, everything that you do will come back to you. What goes around, comes around!

“Comfy Home?”

Psalm 71: 3: “Be to me a rock of habitation, to which I may continually come.” So who wants to live in a rock, other than Fred Flintstone? Actually, you do. A rock is symbolic of safety and durability (Matthew 7: 24-25) as well as secure footing in tribulation (Psalm 40: 2). In warfare, if you have a choice of either you or your enemy fighting from a rock, you pick the rock. And if Jesus is the Rock of our salvation(Psalm 95: 1) … sounds like a deal to me!

“Slow Men Thinking”

Matthew 16: 1: “And the Pharisees and Sadducees came up, and testing Him asked Him to show them a sign from heaven.” Again, are they serious? Jesus had just finished feeding four thousand men, plus their families, and they’re still looking for a sign from heaven? Whadda they want, neon? Sorry, not to be invented for two thousand years yet. But, as Jesus tells these Pharisees and Sadducees, an evil and adulterous generation seeks signs, the rest hear God in their hearts. (Or get one of those direction apps.)

“Trick Question”

Matthew 15: 33: “And the disciples said to Him, ‘Where would we get so many loaves in a desolate place to satisfy such a great multitude?’” Are they serious? Where? How about the same place from which they got enough loaves to feed twenty-five percent more people just a short time before! (Matthew 14: 15-21) Let’s beware of this attitude, which was also in the Israelites. “Yeah, You gave us water yesterday – what about today? You provided bread – can You also do meat? You healed my daughter – what about my son?” Have gratitude for what God has done, and faith for what is still required.

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